Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ah, the World Cup. My only in person football experience was in 1982, in Edinburgh, Scotland. My friend Jan and I were working our way through the "Pubs of Edinburgh" book, and met 3 nice Scottish lads. The boys invited us to join them the following night to see the "Hearts" play the "Hibs" - the two rival Edinburgh teams. Unbeknownst to us until we met them the next night at another local pub, we would be rooting for the Hearts.

I'd grown up going to Rams' and Angels' games, and was unprepared for Scottish football. To enter the stadium, each team's fans enter from opposite sides of the stadium, and approach via never intersecting streets, thus, hopefully avoiding any interaction. The attendees - at least in the cheap seats - are 99% male. There are no bathrooms provided for women - there are only outhouses for the men, most of whom actually just pee against the outside of the outhouse.

We got our tickets and went in - we were located behind one goal - in standing only bleachers. Everybody stands for the entire match, and with the stomping and chanting, the bleachers never stop moving. Done in thick Scottish accents, the chants were largely unintelligible to Jan and me, so it was really unnecessary for our escorts to keep apologizing.

Final score - Hibs 1, Hearts 0. The headlines the next day spoke of rioting, but we really didn't notice anything amiss. The night ended at a very small pub on Cockburn Street where Davey gave me his Hearts scarf, and a live band played "No woman, no cry". The next day, our Scottish History professor inquired as to which team we'd been rooting for at the game. He approved of our Hearts affiliation. "'Tis good," he said, "I won't have Hibs fans in my class."


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